Digital Accessibility Overview


The World Wide Web is designed to be a tool for everyone, yet it is often not accessible to everyone. People with vision, hearing and physical impairments oftentimes have difficulties consuming digital content in its native form. It is the responsibility of the people that create and host content on the web to do the work to make that content accessible to everyone. 

There are several federal laws that drive this work. These include:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
  • The Rehabilitation Act, sections 504 and 508
  • The Communications Act, section 255

For the website, EOU’s accessibility work adheres to the Web Accessibility Initiative’s (WAI) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Currently, we are working to comply with the WCAG 2.0 Standard, level AA.

What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital Accessibility means ensuring that services, platforms and other means of dispersing digital media are available to as broad an audience as possible, including people with disabilities. Accessible services present their content in a way that all people can access and use in an equally practical and unified manner, regardless of physical or developmental disabilities. 

Why is Accessibility Important?

Digital technologies and their associated human interfaces are here to stay. With this in mind it is essential that we take into account the experiences of people with disabilities who may have difficulties interacting with and consuming digital media in its many forms. 

This work ties directly to EOU’s mission and standing as an access institution. 

A Proactive Methodology

Accessibility must be approached proactively. It is essential that all developers, content creators and managers work to ensure that all people have the ability to access digital content. 

As a practical matter, this means the institution needs to shift to an accessibility first approach. We must prioritize users with accessibility issues when creating content, implementing digital platforms or determining our digital strategies.

Examples of proactive Accessibility techniques:

  • Adding text-based alternative descriptions to all non-decorative images so screen reading software can describe the image content to a user with poor vision. 
  • Ensuring that there is sufficient contrast between colors in a webpage’s palette so people with limited color vision can differentiate between page elements.
  • Captioning all videos that are hosted on a webpage, social media platform, or anywhere else, so deaf users can read the content that is being presented.
  • Verifying that people can navigate your content solely with their keyboard, so users who use nontraditional navigation tools may still freely access content. 

These proactive techniques are only some of the ways in which we can help ensure access for all. We must think of our users holistically. This work applies to everyone who accesses any digital content or platform at EOU. 

What is expected of content managers?

All web content managers and those who maintain digital services at Eastern Oregon University are responsible for ensuring that content and platforms are accessible. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Websites
  • Files and graphics uploaded to websites
  • Course material on Canvas or other digital learning platforms
  • Videos
  • All services and content provided by third-party vendors.

What are my next steps?

EOU is continuing to develop digital accessibility plans and resources. While that information is being drafted, you can reference the existing documentation on this site. Begin with the quick guide to Basic Accessibility Testing, which will give you an understanding of the steps required to assess the current accessibility of your site. Also, there are more in-depth guidelines for Image Accessibility, General Document Guidelines and Video Accessibility to help content creators and website managers incorporate accessibility practices into their work.